The ever name-changing watering hole, now called the Middle Park Hotel in Armstrong Street, Middle Park, Melbourne, really is a lovely place to have a drink. In probably its fourth revamp in a little over a decade, the hotel has for once reached the sophisticated status quo it has long been striving for. That doesn't mean it's too classy, toffy, pretentious or any other inadequate term used to describe the rich. It now knows where it sits in the hospitality rank, and it's finally comfortable.
They have settled on their wooden cabin-style décor, and it's just as cozy as it sounds. They haven't totally abandoned the sports angle, but they are now all-encompassing, where footy fans now drink amiably alongside those in boat shoes who go cycling on the weekends. The stuffed deer on the wall is the only recreational concern at what once was called the Gunn Island.
The food is famous and delicious. The up-market restaurant alongside the bar is perfect for lunch and dinner - but take your Diners card and order a side of chips, as it's not cheap and the meals aren't filling. Having said that, the common bar food is good enough to impress both your date and your taste buds. And they have all the drinks regulars want, and enough boutique beers and wine to satisfy the curious.
The Middle Park hotel suffered from beer hall bipolar for so long, there were moments where locals were getting a little tired of their constant reinvention. Nothing says insecurity like inconsistency. Even I, a ring-in, thought maybe it was just never meant to be. But I think the moniker musical chairs has paid off. Check it out, before they change it again.